In collaboration with various institutes and universities, Therm-ic has been researching the changes in human thermoregulation under cold conditions as well as the effects of cold on muscle performance and safety in sports for 25 years. The research results significantly influence the development of our products. Thus, our aim is to exploit and develop new technologies which ideally protect the human body from hypothermia and its consequences.
As endothermic creatures, human beings have a rather constant core temperature. Major body functions, however, only function at their maximum potential within a very narrow temperature range of about 36.6°C/98°F +/- 4°C/39°F. As the body gets colder, so-called thermoregulatory functions are stimulated in order to protect the body’s basic functions and the vital organs located in the center of the body. It is important to understand that every human being reacts differently to cold conditions. A few examples of differences that are hard to measure individually, but significantly impact this reaction are the body mass and build.
There are also significant gender-specific differences between men and women that influence the body climate. Although the body fat percentage, which generally supports the insulation of the body shell, of females is higher, they do not have a thermoregulatory advantage over males. This is because the female body surface is bigger and the body mass is less than that of the male. As a result, heat gets lost. Moreover, due to less muscle mass, women may produce less metabolic heat which leads to a more rapid decline in the inner core temperature, especially under cold conditions.
Generally, with low outside temperatures the temperature of the body decreases significantly, especially in the extremities. Thus, a temperature gradient of up to 20°Celsius/68° Fahrenheit from the outer shell of the body to the core is possible. Due to the decreasing body temperature, blood circulation in the skin is reduced in order to prevent further heat loss. This results in lower mobility, impaired muscle functions, and a limited performance.
Due to the fact that the maximum power and the maximum speed of muscle contraction decline with decreasing muscle temperature, the risk of sport injuries increases. The current state of research assumes that maximum performance declines by 12 %, in comparison to normal muscle temperature, if the muscle reaches about 32° Celsius/89° Fahrenheit. It is generally accepted that the maximum muscle performance declines by 3 % – 8 % per 1°C/34°F.
Our aim is to protect the body from extreme cold temperatures by utilizing research in the creation of easy-to-handle, personal warming systems. Moreover, we aim at moving the focus of attention to maximize well-being and comfort when participating in outdoor winter activities.